As a Taiwanese American artist based in Delray Beach, Sarah Huang is rooted in two cultures, fusing her backlog of dreams, memories, and visions in an organic way.
She is the official poster artist for the 60th Annual Delray Affair. She won out in the open artists call for her unusual painting of the city’s landmark arts district. Rendered in a brushy pink, coral, and turquoise palette, the image is of the Pineapple Grove sign – from the back.
Huang says “Delray Beach is one of the fastest-growing cultural centers in South Florida. Everywhere you look, a fusion of the arts and business is evident. In this image, I wanted to capture an iconic piece of Downtown Delray and show a different perspective of Pineapple Grove of someone exiting through the archway. A painting merged with the sky symbolizes someone leaving Pineapple Grove and daydreaming about the art they experienced in Delray’s local galleries. This design aimed to highlight how the arts are an essential part of the city’s culture through the Pineapple Grove archway leading to the Arts District. It also highlighted how the Delray Affair celebrates this aspect of the city’s culture, fusing arts and business through the Delray Affair each year.”
She was recommended by the Arts Garage to submit because she used to work there. The presentation to the committee was entirely based on an image and statement without any names attached.
What she submitted was very rough. She submitted a design that looks very similar to what the final design came out to be because the committee liked that it had kind of a rough unfinished look of the sign in reverse.
“I looked at some previous years’ designs and I was like, what’s Pineapple Grove to me, what’s Delray beach to me. I love that it always incorporates the arts into every facet of business,” says Huang. “So, you have business and art. And what’s more iconic than dancing pineapples? I love it. I mean, that mural is a backdrop to so many locals and tourists in the area. However, I wanted to capture someone leaving the area and thinking like, wow, Delray Beach is becoming this cultural hub. I just wanted to do something a bit different.”
As a bonus, she will have a booth at the event with copies of the poster for sale as well as some of her other artwork. This will be her first art festival where she is the featured artist.
“I’ve never been in one! I was telling the chamber I’ve never done an art festival before, so this is crazy. I also found out months ago but had to keep it quiet which was really challenging. I was just waiting for the announcement; it kept me on the edge of my seat. I was like, “Oh man, when can I announce it?”
Huang had been working out of her home and in arts administration. Her exhibitions include 1310 Gallery – Sailboat Bend, Ali Cultural Arts, The Pompano Beach Cultural Center, Coral Springs Museum of Art, Arts Garage, The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, Arts Warehouse, and more. Last October she got the space in the Arts Warehouse and has been expanding her work into various mediums.
A striking carnal series depicts black-and-white cuts of meat.
About this newly created artwork, she says: “The Aging & Maturing series is a reflection on identity and connection captured through gesturally drawn carcasses on vellum with powdered graphite. Food is a significant part of my family’s culture and equally a significant part of my identity. I remember loving nothing more than taking those trips to the supermarket with my family. I’d gaze in wonder at the roasted Peking duck floating in the window or how the butcher expertly prepares the meat for sale.
As someone who is biracial, food is my connection to my heritage and Taiwanese culture, and meat is at the forefront of that connection. I draw meat because of how anyone can relate to its form – a contemporary take on genre art. The process of drawing is familiar and comforting, and my paintbrush allows me to draw broadly and loosely, imbuing my physicality with each stroke. This is where I capture flesh, form, light, and shadow through my meaty subjects.”
In contrast, a drawing series became paintings that became sculptural, blooming and snaking off the walls.
“I only had a couple of weeks to put this together, but they are drawing on Mylar–just synthetic paper. It’s like drafting film and it’s made with graphite and acrylic paint. It never quite takes the same shape or form, which is kind of how I intended it to be. This is because it’s comprised of various drawings that I had done over many weeks. And I kind of curated it and picked out which one stood out to me the most. So, this was one of my first forays into the more sculptural format.”
The work will be at Art Serve in Ft Lauderdale for a show called “Sui Generis.”
“For a long time, I was working full time doing arts administration and operations and not really digging my heels into something where I could really explore. So, when I moved here at the beginning of October, I sat down and I was like, well, what do you truly enjoy about your work? I put this up and it started to get the wheels turning and I was like, all right, what’s the next step? Let’s stay in the three-dimensional realm for a little bit and have fun in that exploration mode.”
Huang says this is formative for her and where her mind is heading about her current work now.
“One of my goals in coming back to the three-dimensional format is to envelop a room somewhere and engulf people with these sprawling drawings because I truly have the most fun when I’m playing with the drawings and trying something different. I get a lot of interesting comments. It is like a light fixture or something that is bowed from the ceiling, just coming off the wall. Yeah, it’s very organic, right? So that’s what excites me about that piece.”
Huang grew up drawing and painting became more of a second step for her. She paints animals and people in a bright, illustrative way.
Drawing is familiar to her. It’s comforting.
I really embraced just using graphite at the moment. On my drawings for my installation, it was really a return to my roots.”